Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Page 85 - iii- Mauritius "Post Office" stamps on cover

This was sold on 1st December 2016 for €2M ($2.1M).
Described in LIFE as, "Stamps on $75,000 envelope … issued in 1847 by Postmaster of British island of Mauritius."
Printing plate

Looking first at the individual stamps, there were two values, the one penny red-brown and the two pence blue. There was a single printing plate with just one of each value and  Wikipedia suggests that 500 copies of each stamp were printed.

 Feldman states that there are only six known examples of the stamps on cover:
  1. "Three of the covers are single frankings of the 1d value; one is in the British Library (Tapling Collection), 
  2. another in the Royal Collection (since 1904). 
  3. the third, known as the “Ball Envelope,” is ex Kanai, and was sold by [Feldman] in the last decade. 
  4. A single franking 2d cover to Bordeaux is in the German Postal Museum, [The French dealer Théophile Lemaire bought the Bordeaux letter bearing a single two pence  stamp for £1,200, and sold it to the German dealer Philipp Kosack for £1,400. Kosack then sold it to the Reichspostmuseum in Berlin, Helen Morgan blog] while 
  5. the famous 1d + 2d franking, also to Bordeaux, was the highlight of the Kanai collection, and achieved the highest price ever obtained by a philatelic object, CHF 6’250’000, still the record for any philatelic cover. 
  6. Finally the Bombay cover" which Feldman is selling and prompted their post. This is the cover featured in the LIFE article.
Images for four of the six covers have been found so far.
1. Tapling Collection
2. the Royal Collection
image from the British Library

3. the Ball Envelope
4. single 2d Bordeaux
image from
image from

5. 1d + 2d Bordeaux
6. the Bombay cover
image from Wikipedia
image from Feldman

Feldman provides a history of the Bombay cover,

  • "Its provenance includes its discovery in 1897 in an Indian bazaar, soon passing through the hands of dealer W.H. Peckitt to Vernon Roberts, later owned (1906) by Worthington, who sold it to Alfred F. Lichtenstein in 1917. It was considered one of the most important items of his collection. 
  • When this cover was sold in 1968 as Lot 1 of the Dale-Lichtenstein collection, it brought an astounding $380,000 and ended up, a year later, in the hands of Raymond Weill. 
  •  Offered again at auction in 1989 as part of the Weill Brothers stock, it was bought in for CHF 2’600’000 
  • and subsequently sold to Dr. Chan Chin Cheung, who held it until its sale in 1996 to Guido Craveri, who exhibited it in New York at Anphilex ’96 as one of the Aristocrats of Philately.
  • Subsequently sold to an unidentified private collector, and 
  • soon to be offered by Private Treaty though our company, the “Bombay” cover remains the “ne plus ultra” of condition for this very rare classic issue, and offers as well a great deal of pride (and fame, if desired) for its next owner !"
The cover sold at Feldman for €2M ($2.1M), against an estimate of €3-5M.
The copper plate was also sold for €1.1M, estimate €2-3M.


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